Gloria Harris is 63, but her youthful appearance helped her blend with dozens of other Georgia Perimeter College students attending an Affordable Care Act (ACA) forum on Decatur Campus.
The distinction became clearer when Harris began asking pointed questions about the sweeping changes to health care administration being rolled out in the United States. Harris, a GPC Prime Timers student, says the forum clarified some of her confusion about the new law, which is also known as Obamacare.
“I came here to get the information,” she said, noting that she anticipates enrolling in a health insurance program at the Health Insurance Marketplace after the first of the year.
“It (the forum) was very helpful. Now I can go forward with more education to help me and my family.”
Harris’ experience is exactly what Barbara Robertson envisioned when deciding to coordinate the November “Understanding Obamacare” forums on the Decatur, Dunwoody and Newton campuses. Robertson, a GPC political science instructor, says she grew tired of hearing on the news and personally from people like Harris who expressed confusion about the Affordable Care Act. So, she reached out to fellow political science and history faculty to facilitate the forums.
“We’ll try to give you just the facts,” Robertson told Decatur attendees. “We want to really alleviate confusion and a great deal of ignorance about the law that has been heightened by partisanship.”
Robertson went on to highlight earlier attempts to pass comprehensive health care reforms in America and show a couple of web-based videos illustrating the skyrocketing cost of health care from 1965-2010, which motivated passage of Obamacare. Her introductory presentation also included an explanation of the difference between Medicare and Medicaid and the four phases to the ACA implementation, which extends to 2014.
Robertson invited Seedco’s Bill Rencher to provide information and answer questions, as well. Seedco is a federally-funded program partnering with organizations in Georgia to help enroll individuals in health policies through the Marketplace and conduct community outreach and education.
Rencher’s talk covered the history of universal health care starting with the German Health Insurance Act of 1883 and the three major components of the Affordable Care Act, which are insurance regulation, coverage mandates and government subsidies and programs intended to make health care affordable and available to all. Rencher also explained the unorthodox political manner in which ACA became law, with no Republicans voting for it.
When asked about the Health Insurance Marketplace glitches, Rencher said: “We emphasize that the website is not the federal law. It’s hard and definitely unfortunate, but we would never say that Medicare is a failure because the website isn’t working.”
Robertson says the country will have to wait to assess the true effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act. “Only time will tell,” she says. “The law is very complex; there are a lot of moving parts.”
Meantime, she’s confident the forums helped educate students. “This was an opportunity to showcase American politics and the importance of the health care law.”